The Coronavirus Strategies and Mental Health

This Corvid-19, or Coronavirus, is a threat to us on many levels.  There can be no doubt it is a worldwide pandemic of a nature we have never encountered before.  We are struggling to learn how to manage this virus.  We are looking to our leaders to lead us.  They, in turn, are depending on the experts to advise them.  However, we are not considering all of the implications.

We have some of the world’s greatest epidemiologists examining this virus.  We have our industry retooling to develop tools to contain the virus. We are recommending that our nation practice social isolation.  We have tried social isolation before.  Our nation had a policy of social isolation and both times we found ourselves involved in two world wars.

We, according to our leaders, are involved in another war.  We are fighting an aggressive war against an invisible enemy.  We know nothing about this enemy.  We do not even know where the enemy originates.

Yet we are fighting with tools that may not be appropriate.  We are returning to the failed strategy of social isolationism.  After all, if one isolates we reduce the probability of contracting the illness.  I suggest we have not given enough thought to this strategy.  We have not asked all of the relevant experts about the viability of this strategy.

Whenever we have a crisis we assemble every expert except the mental health community.  Yet when we have a mental health crisis we ask where were the providers.  We become concerned about the state of mental health treatment in this nation.  If only for a passing time.

This strategy of “sheltering in place” or limiting our assemblies is not a well thought one.  It sounds reasonable but only because we are not considering the mental health implications.  Social isolation is a profound factor in or symptom of several mental health illnesses.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5 lists several conditions including; Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia as some of these illnesses.

It seems counter-intuitive to recommend people confine themselves to their homes.  When we consider we are then overwhelming the confined with dire and conflicting information from our broadcasting mediums it seems dangerously negligent.  We need to ask the mental health experts for their input.  We are risking the resolution of one crisis and replacing it with another.

I would suggest we develop a new strategy that considers both the Physical, Psychological, and Spiritual dynamics of health.  We need to stress self-protection like masks and other prophylactic measures.  However, we need to also consider our protective factors like drawing assurance and encouragement from our important relationships.  We need to turn to our worship of a High Power in these times.  We need to recognize we are social beings and it is simply unhealthy to keep us secluded.

There are mental health implications in this crisis as well.